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"The Bridal Veil" by Wakamatu Shizuko (1864 - 1896)
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"The Bridal Veil" by Wakamatu Shizuko (1864 - 1896)

Wakamatu Shizuko studied English under Mary E. Kidder, an American missionary.    Shizuko was seven years old.  Miss Kidder founded Ferris Girls School in Yokohama, and the school is the oldest girls' school in Japan.  I didn't know it.  One of my high school friends graduated from Ferris University.  Anyway, Shizuko became the first graduate from the school, and she taught at the school after her graduation.  She wrote the following poem in English on the day of her wedding in 1889.  One page poem is the only English text I found in "Japanese Women Literature Collection Volume One" that was published in 2007.  Her husband was a scholar and wrote about Japan's problems in farming.   

The chief editor wrote that it was rare then and even today for women to ask their husbands, "You must grow to new heights, if I love you tomorrow."  I agree with the editor.  Putting reality aside, I think many of us seek such partner.  We want to reach a high ideal together and be soul mates.  She and her husband seemed equal and helped each other.

"The Bridal Veil" by Wakamatu Shizuko

We're married, they say, and you think you have won me

Well, take this white veil and look on me.

Here's a matter to vex you and matter to grieve you.

Here's doubt to distrust you and faith to believe you.

I am all, as you see, common earth, and common dew.

Be weary to mould me to roses, not rue!

Ah!  Shake out the filmy thing, fold after fold.

And see if you have me to keep and to hold.

Look close on my heart see the worst of its shining.

It is not yours today for the yesterday's winning.

The past is not mine--I am too proud to borrow.

You must grow to new heights, if I love you tomorrow.

We're married!  O, pray that our love do not fail!

I have wings flattened down, and hid under my veil.

They are subtle as light--you can undo them.

And swift in their flight--you can never pursue them.

And spite of all clasping, and spite of all bands,

I can slip like a shadow, a dream, from your hands.

Nay, call me not cruel and fear not to take me.

I am yours for my lifetime, to be what you make me,

To wear my white veil for a sign or a cover.

As you shall be proven my lord, or my lover,

A cover for peace that is dead, or a token

Of bliss that can never be written or spoken.

8 Comment count
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Thank you for allowing me to

Thank you for allowing me to read this poem Keiko. It is very lovely- "I can slip like a shadow, a dream, from your hands''. She was a strong woman.

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Mary, Yes, she was.  She

Mary, Yes, she was.  She named herself Wakamatu Shizuko because, I think, she was proud of her heritage, Aizu Wakamatu, and the kanji character of Shizu means lowly born.  Aizu Wakamatu is a location that has a long samurai history.   I think it was her way of being humble.  

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Keiko, this is a wonderful,

Keiko, this is a wonderful, powerful poem. 1889? That´s amazing.She reminds me of Kate Chopin; the same attitute:

"I have wings flattened down and hid under my veil"

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Luciana, I'm glad you like


I'm glad you like it.  The other day, I gave the bookstore a wrong spelling of Borges.  Today, I found his book "El Otro El Mismo (maybe wrong spelling" in Japanese, and I read some pages. Yes, I felt his passion from those pages.  I especially liked Emerson, Texas, and Tango!  Thank you for introducing the book to me.

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This is beautiful, Keiko.

This is beautiful, Keiko. Noticing she died at the youthful age of 32, such wisdom she possessed.

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Ellen, Yes, she died young,


Yes, she died young, but almost all the female writers died young.  Most of them died before 25 such as 18, 20, 22, and 24.  Tuberculosis killed many people then, and Japanese women had harsh lives.  I'm so lucky in living in this century and writing about them.  They're all amazing people.

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I did not realize life

I did not realize life expectancy was so short during that time period.  We are all so lucky they found time in their brief lives to do some writing.

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Ellen, I’m reading the


I’m reading the volume two, and so far, only two women lived a longer life. Out of those two, only one kept writing. The other stopped after her marriage. I want to write more about that later. Also, I want to write about their marriage. I think they put their tremendous effort in keeping their status equal to their husbands. And those husbands also achieved their highest status in their expert fields.